Mike Baird tipped for next NSW Premier
Ultra conservative Christian Liberal, Mike Baird has been tipped as the likely candidate to take over as NSW Premier after Barry O’Farrell’s shock resignation yesterday.
With a party room meeting scheduled for 3pm today, Baird who holds the position of NSW Treasurer, will face off against Minister for Family Services' Pru Goward for the top job. If elected Baird has urged the party to support Gladys Berejiklian as his deputy. Current deputy leader, Jillian Skinner said she will not recontest her role.
The son of former Howard government minister Bruce Baird, Mike Baird originally opted for a career in banking. The Brethren educated Baird spent some of his youth in the US while his father was Trade Minister. He then returned to Sydney to attend the Kings School and later Sydney University, where he studied arts and economics.
Baird was a member of the Young Liberals, where he was president of his local chapter, but didn’t answer the call to political life until his mid thirties. He was head of institutional banking for Australia and New Zealand for HSBC when he gave up his banking career to enter politics.
Interestingly it was whilst taking a sabbatical (literally) to attend seminary college at the University of Columbia in Canada that Baird finally made the decision to pursue a political career.
In an interview some years ago he told the Herald how he had been writing an essay reflecting on his reasons for wanting to be a minister and his father’s influence as a politician figured heavily in the essay. Marking up his paper with red pen, the lecturer suggested perhaps a career in politics would be advised.
Baird took his advice and didn’t look back.
Today Baird’s religious conservatism weighs heavily on his position on several issues of interest to the LGBTI community. He is vocal in his disapproval of gay marriage (though has gone on the record to say he approves a conscience vote) and voted against embryonic stem cell research. Nor does he approve of same-sex adoptions.
His conservative values haven’t stopped Baird from coming under fire however. Last year concerns were raised over Baird’s relationship with Nick Di Girolamo, (the same Nick Di Girolamo whose gift of a bottle of Grange was to be the downfall of Premier O’Farrell). Baird was amongst those who appointed Di Girolamo as a director of the State Water Corporation. Di Girolamo is currently at the centre of an ICAC.
Baird was also scrutinised for appointing Roger Massey-Green to a $200,000 a year board membership after it was revealed Massey Green was a supporter of Baird’s campaign.